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As well as giving advice, we campaign for changes in policies and services where improvements are needed – solving problems for people who may never even use our services. We talk to Government, local councils and other policy makers to help them improve the laws and services that affect ordinary people.
The Citizens Advice Service is respected for its impartiality and independent analysis, and is listened to at all levels of government. Councillors, MPs, and Ministers all consult the Citizens Advice Service on a wide range of issues. See www.citizensadvice.org.uk
Although the evidence used in our research and campaigns work is based on our clients’ experiences our intentions are to address the root causes of unfairness in policies, processes and practices. This should benefit all of society, in particular many people who never visit a Citizens Advice.
The Citizens Advice service nationally carries out comprehensive research on the issues faced by society. It’s clear that issues faced in Basingstoke reflect those faced throughout England. It’s interesting – but not surprising – to discover that so many of the issues are interlinked. The three following statements reflect life for millions of people in England, including thousands in Basingstoke.
Click here for Citizens Advice national campaigns page
Employment has changed dramatically in the last 20 years. There is considerably more part-time and/or temporary work with changing shift patterns, leading to significantly more work insecurity and a hand-to-mouth existence for many. The Citizens Advice report illustrates the effects of these changes.
The last 10 years has seen a decline in home ownership and a tightening of criteria to qualify for social housing. Not surprisingly there has been a doubling of tenants living in privately rented accommodation. Rents in Basingstoke are high, so many people – particularly those in insecure jobs – struggle to afford somewhere to live. Click here to see the Citizens Advice report that explains the difficulties.
If you're renting your flat or house from a private landlord (either directly or through a letting agent) then this is for you. It helps to know yur rights and responsibilies and to know how to get problems sorted.
All economists know that debt is a problem. In recent years proportions have shifted from secured debt (eg mortgages) to unsecured debt (eg credit card, rent arrears, Payday loans). The Citizens Advice report shows how this debt has grown, who is carrying the debt and what effect it is having on their lives.
The purpose behind these research projects is to understand how these national problems affect people’s daily lives. The findings are raised with people at all levels in society including decision makers at national and local level.
Citizens Advice campaigns are focused on achievable results and are often focused more narrowly than our research. They are also intended to have an impact at a time when decision makers may be considering changes to policies or practices.
Recent national campaigns have included:
In addition to our work supporting national research and campaigns we have carried out local research.
Citizens Advice Basingstoke investigated the reasons behind and the process by which Jobseekers get their benefit sanctioned. We focused on the PROCESS of sanctions and whether claimants were aware of what was happening. We interviewed 5 Job Seekers Allowance claimants who had been sanctioned and concluded that the sanctions process was not working the way it was intended to. We discussed these conclusions with the Department of Work and Pensions at a local level. The number of sanctions caused by an ineffective process appear to have since reduced markedly. Following on from this Job Seekers Allowance work we now have more regular meetings with Department of Work and Pensions representatives.
Citizens Advice Tadley investigated the level of the Local Housing Allowance which is used to determine Housing Benefit rates. The intention was to determine whether the Local Housing Allowance reflected local rental rates and the make-up of the local market. We concluded that the geographic scope of the Local Housing Allowance (North East Hampshire) reflected average rental rates that are well below those available in Tadley.
We are planning further activities in the local private rental sector.
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